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Manila Bulletin - Calida defends position not to represent Comelec

News & Interviews
10 July 2018

By Jeffrey Damicog | Manila Bulletin

Solicitor General Jose Calida defended his stance not to represent the Commission on Elections (Comelec) before the Supreme Court (SC), sitting as Presidential Electoral Tribunal (PET).

Recently, the PET asked the Office of the Solicitor General (OSG) to represent the Comelec and file a comment over the petition of Vice President Leni Robredo that, during the ongoing manual recount, to consider as valid ballots those which are at least 25 percent shaded. Currently, the PET set the threshold at 50 percent.

“As the People’s Tribune, it is the Solicitor General’s duty to present to the Presidential Electoral Tribunal the position he perceives to be in the best interest of the Republic, notwithstanding the stance of his client, specifically the Comelec, on the issue,” Calida explained in a July 10 statement.

Citing past rulings of the tribunal, Calida said “the Supreme Court acknowledged that ‘the Solicitor General may, as it has in instances, take a position adverse and contrary to that of the government on the reasoning that it is incumbent upon him to present to the court what he considers would legally uphold the best interest of the government although it may run counter to a client’s position.”

On Friday, Calida filed a manifestation which declared that the OSG is invoking its role as “People’s Tribune” and asked the PET to allow the Comelec to file its own comment over Robredo’s petition.

Robredo has pending motion for reconsideration which asked the PET to overturn its April 10 ruling which denied her petition.

On his part, Calida pointed out in his manifestation that the PET should uphold its April 10 ruling since the tribunal “correctly ruled that it has ‘no basis to impose a 25 percent threshold in determining whether a vote is valid.’”

The manual recount and revision of ballots in the protest filed by former Sen. Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr. against Robredo started on April 2 at the SC-Court of Appeals gymnasium in Ermita, Manila.

The proceedings are being conducted behind closed doors by 36 sets of revisors supervised by a three-man ad hoc panel designated by the PET.

The PET has finished its job on the ballots retrieved from Camarines Sur and is now manually counting and revising the ballots in Iloilo. After Iloilo, PET revisors will start their work on the ballots from Negros Oriental.

Results of the manual recount and revision of ballots in the three provinces would determine if the PET would proceed with the Marcos’ protest that covers 132,446 precincts in 27 provinces and cities.

Based on election results, Robredo was declared winner in the 2016 vice presidential election with 14,418,817 votes or 263,473 more than the 14,155,344 votes garnered by Marcos.

Robredo also filed a counterprotest against Marcos. The two cases had been consolidated by the PET.